Table 1

Key recommendations of a new ‘Stronger Together’ pandemic agenda for South Asia

Key focus areasUrgent prioritiesMedium-term to long-term priorities
  • Cross-national surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 variants.

  • Establishing data (epidemiologic clinical and genomic) sharing collaborations for COVID-19 variant data in the region.

  • Establishing a centre for regional monitoring of variants and other viruses following existing models such as INSACOG.

  • Shared and resilient health system for pandemic and beyond.

  • Regional collaboration, at a minimum, on lessons learnt and sharing of best and worst practices.

  • Initiating ways human resources for health can be shared across borders, such as telehealth approaches.

  • Establishing a system for regional recognition of medical licenses and a system for human resource sharing in a health emergency.

  • Developing a shared resiliency and preparedness plan for health security and climate crisis challenges.

  • Overcoming the shortage of COVID-19 technologies.

  • Initiating a needs’ assessment process requesting national-level data to build a regional needs assessment.

  • Collaborate as a bloc to facilitate requesting and distributing vaccines for COVID-19 from excess stockpiles and manufacturers.

  • Collaborating as a bloc to increase manufacturing capacities and to re-orient global mechanisms such as COVAX to improve equity for vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.

  • Cooperation between scientific, professional organisations, associations and academia.

  • Formal collaboration to co-develop and share guidelines, public awareness-building efforts and other resources.

  • Collaboration with diaspora and other low-income and middle-income countries to support initiatives in different countries of the region.

  • Establish formal mechanisms for the professional and scientific community to directly collaborate for emergency responses in health and other crises and to improve preparedness in the region.

  • Advocacy for removal of governance and financial barriers which prevent scientific collaboration within region.

  • COVAX, COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access; INSACOG, Indian SARS-CoV-2 Genome Sequencing Consortia.